Almost 14,000 suspects wanted by Met Police on the loose as report raises ‘serious concerns’

·4-min read
Britain’s largest force only rated ‘good’ in one of 10 performance areas in inspection that led to special measures  (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Britain’s largest force only rated ‘good’ in one of 10 performance areas in inspection that led to special measures (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Almost 14,000 people wanted by the Metropolitan Police for crimes including violence and sex attacks are on the loose, The Independent can reveal.

“Serious concerns” were highlighted in a report that led to Britain’s largest force being put into special measures in June. It said the high number of wanted offenders was “an area for improvement, as the number of suspects remaining outstanding for long periods of time is growing”.

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said Scotland Yard had created units dedicated to catching “predatory offenders”, such as those who target women and girls, and arrested 1,200 outstanding suspects in five months.

But figures obtained by The Independent show that as of March, there were still 13,785 wanted offenders in total.

The report was published less than a fortnight after new commissioner Sir Mark Rowley took up his post, and a day after two colleagues of Wayne Couzens were convicted over racist and misogynistic WhatsApp messages.

Deputy commissioner Dame Lynne Owens said the Metropolitan Police had a “clear plan for change”.

“Our pledge to London is 'more trust, less crime, high standards',” she added.

“Here, at the start of our first 100 days, we are drawing together expertise from across the Met and beyond, listening to our communities and the workforce, to put in place the right plans and take swift action to deliver our pledge.”

Of the 10 areas of performance inspected by HMIC only one – preventing crime – was rated as “good”, two ratings were “adequate”, five “requires improvement” and one – responding to the public – “inadequate”.

Among the areas requiring improvement was the management of suspects and offenders, as well as investigating crime and protecting vulnerable people.

Inspectors found that although the force has a team dedicated to monitoring registered sex offenders and people convicted of serious violence when they are released from prison, there is a “shortage of experienced officers” for the task.

“The force has a policy of removing detectives from [the team] and online child sexual abuse and exploitation teams, to increase investigation capacity elsewhere,” the report said.

It warned of a lack of detectives and frontline police officers, adding: “A lack of experience in responding to and investigating incidents of crime leads to delays for victims and makes successful criminal justice end results less likely.”

Inspectors warned that Boris Johnson’s programme to recruit 20,000 extra police forces across the country in just three years “was creating an inexperienced workforce”.

It found that new constables were being managed by inexperienced supervisors and that around 1,500 officers are leaving the force every year “in part due to high workloads and poor supervision”.

HMIC also found that the Metropolitan Police was missing targets for answering 999 and 101 calls, failing to identify vulnerable victims and giving them inadequate support during criminal investigations.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said the watchdog also had concerns about other areas, including counter-corruption efforts, which contributed to the Metropolitan Police being put into special measures in June.

He added that despite “many successes”, the report “raises serious concerns about how the force responds to the public and the level of understanding the force has about its demand and its workforce”.

“The Met must get better at how it responds to the public – currently, its call-handling teams are unable to answer calls quickly enough,” Mr Parr added.

“In addition, it isn’t correctly documenting the decisions of victims to withdraw from an investigation or to accept an out-of-court disposal.”

UK news in pictures

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21 September 2022: A flock of birds in the sky as the sun rises over Dungeness in Kent (PA)
20 September 2022: Flowers which were laid by members of the public in tribute to Queen Elizabeth II at Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland are collected by the Hillsborough Gardening Team and volunteers to be replanted for those that can be saved or composted (PA)
20 September 2022: Flowers which were laid by members of the public in tribute to Queen Elizabeth II at Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland are collected by the Hillsborough Gardening Team and volunteers to be replanted for those that can be saved or composted (PA)
19 September 2022: The ceremonial procession of the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II travels down the long walk as it arrives at Windsor Castle for the committal service at St George’s Chapel (AFP/Getty)
19 September 2022: The ceremonial procession of the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II travels down the long walk as it arrives at Windsor Castle for the committal service at St George’s Chapel (AFP/Getty)
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18 September 2022: A man stands among campers on The Mall ahead of the Queen’s funeral (Reuters)
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17 September 2022: Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Nathan Collins fouls Manchester City’s Jack Grealish leading to a red card. City went on to win the match at Molineux Stadium three goals to nil. (Action Images/Reuters)
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16 September 2022: Members of the public stand in the queue near Tower Bridge, and opposite the Tower of London, as they wait in line to pay their respects to the late Queen Elizabeth II, in London (AFP via Getty Images)
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15 September 2022: Members of the public in the queue on in Potters Fields Park, central London, as they wait to view Queen Elizabeth II lying in state ahead of her funeral on Monday (PA)
14 September 2022: The first members of the public pay their respects as the vigil begins around the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Hall, London, where it will lie in state ahead of her funeral on Monday (PA)
14 September 2022: The first members of the public pay their respects as the vigil begins around the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Hall, London, where it will lie in state ahead of her funeral on Monday (PA)
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13 September 2022: Crowds cheer as King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort arrive for a visit to Hillsborough Castle (Getty)
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12 September 2022: Crowds line the Royal Mile, Edinburgh, as King Charles III joins a procession from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to St Giles’ Cathedral following the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II (Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS)
11 September 2022: Members of the Public pay their respects as the hearse carrying the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in the Royal Standard of Scotland, is driven through Ballater (AFP/Getty)
11 September 2022: Members of the Public pay their respects as the hearse carrying the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in the Royal Standard of Scotland, is driven through Ballater (AFP/Getty)

The report said that the special measures process, officially known as “engage”, would give the force additional scrutiny and support and see its progress monitored.

Dame Lynne said it would work closely with HMIC and other partners to “help us to turn around our performance”.

Rebuilding public confidence and pulling Scotland Yard out of special measures are key tasks for its new leadership, after the murder of Sarah Everard and a series of other scandals battered public trust.

A report commissioned by Priti Patel found that Dame Cressida Dick had been forced to resign without “due process” by Sadiq Khan earlier this year, but the mayor defended his actions and said he had “lost confidence” in the former commissioner.

She quit in February, amid outrage over racist, sexist and homophobic messages shared by a group of officers based at Charing Cross police station, and two separate inquiries into Metropolitan Police culture and vetting that were sparked by the murder of Ms Everard are ongoing.

In a sternly worded letter before his tenure began, Ms Patel demanded Sir Mark address the “appalling mistakes of the past”, including the strip searches of children and failures investigating serial killer Stephen Port.

There has also been criticism over the force’s approach to tackling corruption, its use of stop and search and its treatment of Black people, with protests breaking out over the fatal shooting of Chris Kaba earlier this month.